Fans know that The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is undoubtedly an epic game that's filled with enchanting stories and unforgettable adventures. However, who would've thought that the events that happened way before the game even arrived were just as epic? That's right, the history of The Elder Scrolls series actually runs a lot deeper than stolen sweet rolls and arrow-in-the-knee jokes. In fact, the series' past was quite eventful. There had been numerous hard-fought wars, honorable victories and even guilt-riddled transgressions that occurred in the series prior to Skyrim.
It's no exaggeration to say that the latest entry in the series is the culmination of centuries worth of history and adventure. If that sounds like a lot of stuff going on, well, that's because it is! From the reign of the first Imperial king to the end of the Septim bloodline, the history of this series runs deeper than the roots of the ancient Eldergleam tree. Aside from epic adventures, these events were also rife with mysteries and wonder, political struggles and revolutions, heroes and rebels, what more could fans ask for?
All these stories fill the bigger picture and help shape the game that fans know and love. After all, the series didn't get to become this good if it weren't for its elaborate past. There are even stories in history that sound more exciting than the entirety of Skyrim's main plot! They will certainly pique the curiosity of fans and might even tempt them to revisit these events themselves. So put on your best gear, get on your finest mares and brace yourselves on an epic trip back in time adventurers, as we bring you 30 wild events that happened before TESV: Skyrim.
30 A Legend Begins
Every great legend deserves an equally epic backstory and the tale regarding the Septim Empire's origins certainly delivers just that. Emperor Tiber Septim is one of the most revered leaders in all of Tamriel, conquering most of the continent and its various kingdoms. With his ambition and strong will, the Emperor managed to unite the region's kingdoms.
It's no secret, power corrupts.
However, the Emperor soon utilized the power of a great golem known as the Numidium in order to slay neutral kingdoms that weren't their allies. This abuse of power eventually angered some otherworldly beings such as the Underking.
29 For The Greater Good
Legend has it that Tiber Septim's Imperial Battlemage Zurin Arctus was slain in the process of powering up the destructive golem called the Numidium. However, one account claims that Arctus didn't exactly perish. Instead, he resurfaced as an undead necromancer known as the Underking.
Tiber's abuse of the Numidium soon caught the attention of the Underking. While some accounts argue that the Underking is actually the ancient King Wulfharth and not Arctus, their fate remains the same. In the end, the Underking was still able to destroy the Numidium, putting himself to rest and preventing Tiber from further abusing the power of this great golem.
28 The War Of Betony
The event known as the War of Betony is certainly a vital piece of history that occurred way before the events in Skyrim. In this war, Daggerfall king Lysandus was eliminated by a noble named Woodborne. This turned Lysandus into a restless spirit of vengeance.
The second game wouldn't have been the same if this war never happened.
Lysandus' ghost would not rest until he exacts revenge and it's the job of the TES II: Daggerfall hero to find the person responsible for his demise. Fortunately, the protagonist was able to avenge him and the king was finally able to rest in peace.
27 The Warp In The West
There are many strange happenings in the past and one of those is the mind-bending event called the Miracle of Peace, aka The Warp in the West. The protagonist in TES II: Daggerfall set off a chain of events that ultimately altered the flow of time. This led to numerous outcomes happening at once.
This strange occurrence gave birth to the orc kingdom of Orsinium, made all kingdoms under Imperial rule, and even ended the life of the one who caused it in the process. Of course, all of these bizarre conundrums were a byproduct of playing with unnatural forces like the Numidium, figures.
26 The Battle Of Red Mountain
The iconic event known as The Battle of Red Mountain certainly raises more questions than answers. This battle erupted when the elven race called Chimers fought the dwarves know as Dwemers in a battle that would forever be part of Skyrim's mysteries. Both the dwarves and the elves bested each other in combat.
The only way dwarves and elves could settle their differences was through war.
It's unclear who exactly won the legendary battle but numerous books in Skyrim suggest that both races suffered gravely as a result. Either way, these events eventually lead to the beginning of the third game, Morrowind.
25 The Disappearance Of The Dwemers
Among the biggest mysteries of Skyrim is the disappearance of the dwarves known as Dwemers. It all started in the Battle of Red Mountain. When the elves discovered that the dwarves were using an ancient artifact in Red Mountain to construct a new god, they planned to stop them.
A battle broke out and both the elven leader Nerevar and the dwarven king Dumac were mortally wounded in the process. The great dwarven architect Kagrenac feared that his race was in danger so he used his special tools on the ancient artifact which resulted in the disappearance of all of the Dwemers.
24 Ascension To Power
Kagrenac's actions might have wiped the entire Dwemer race off the continent but the tools that he used to accomplish that still remained. Another Elven leader called Dagoth Ur got hold of the same tools and gave himself godlike powers. It is the duty of the hero, in TES III: Morrowind, to become the Nerevarine and stop the powerful elf once and for all.
Dagoth Ur was ultimately defeated by the Nerevarine, who was sent by Azura to hinder the elves who sought godly powers for their own. This just goes to show that playing with otherworldly forces only ends in ruin.
23 The Curse Of The Chimers
The Battle of Red Mountain had many adverse effects on the world of Skyrim. The event not only caused the disappearance of the Dwemers, but it also created the dark elf race known as the Dunmers. The Dwemers might have disappeared but this didn't stop the Chimer elves from using their tools.
A new race or a reminder of an ugly mistake?
In fact, the Chimers hoped to use these tools to elevate their existence. However, their continuous use of dwarven architect Kagrenac's tools offended their patron deity Azura. This led Azura to curse them, turning their skin dark and their eyes red.
22 The Destruction In Morrowind
Most of Morrowind was left in ruin after a cataclysmic event referred to as The Red Year took place turning most of the region less habitable. During this event, Red Mountain erupted destroying the homes of thousands of Dunmer citizens. This forced most of them to relocate to other places such as Skyrim.
This is why players who choose the Dunmer class in Skyrim receive condolences from other NPCs telling them how awful it must've been to flee Morrowind. While numerous Dunmer refugees flock all over Skyrim, there are some who decided to return home to rebuild what's left of it.
21 Winterhold's Great Collapse
Anyone who has visited Winterhold in Skyrim knows that the place is pretty much a ghost town. The town was simply left in ruin after a devastating event known as The Great Collapse occurred. This event caused massive tremors prompting most locals to vacate their homes.
Most of the College of Winterhold was left untouched, leading some to believe that the mages might have something to do with the catastrophe. However, Arch-Mage Savos Aren suspects that the event might be somehow connected to the eruption of Red Mountain. Strangely enough, it's been over a hundred years since the Red Year happened.
20 The Oblivion Crisis
The Mythic Dawn is a cult that's crazy enough to conquer the entire region all by themselves, and during the Oblivion Crisis, they were almost successful in doing so too! Their goal was to eliminate the Emperor and to ensure that the Dragonfires wouldn't be lit so that their invasion could proceed. The cult's members bested the Imperial guards and even the Emperor himself.
Certain accounts mention that a myriad of Oblivion gates started appearing almost everywhere, including in places as far as Summerset Isle. If it weren't for the Hero of Kvatch, they would've turned the mortal realm into Daedra fodder.
19 Symbol Of Hope
The hero of Kvatch was in a race against time during the Oblivion Crisis. Just as Martin Septim was being crowned as the new emperor, the big bad Mehrunes Dagon himself arrives. Martin had no choice but to break the Amulet of Kings, transforming himself into the flaming personification of the dragon Akatosh!
While the Daedric Prince was eventually banished from Tamriel, it came at the cost of the life of the only remaining heir to the throne, marking the end of the Septim era. Martin turned into stone and the region lost its last Dragonborn, until Skyrim, that is.
18 Purifying The Wicked
The Dark Brotherhood members in Skyrim have a familial connection towards each other. However, this wasn't always the case. During the Oblivion Crisis, the Brotherhood leader suspected that there was a traitor among them.
The hero of Kvatch is then instructed to purify the whole sanctuary by dispatching every member within it. This was quite difficult to do since every member was very friendly towards the player. Even the only member who hates the player starts liking them at this point, not knowing that the player is about to wipe out all of them! It truly is a dark organization after all.
17 The End Of Greymarch
Daedric Prince of Madness Sheogorath had a dilemma that only the TESIV: Oblivion protagonist, aka the hero of Kvatch, could solve. Sheogorath needed a champion to halt an event called The Greymarch. Once this event begins, the Daedric prince will reluctantly have to turn over his kingdom to the Prince of Order, known as Jyggalag.
No wonder Sheogorath's presence in Skyrim somehow felt familiar.
Fortunately, the hero was able to defeat Jyggalag thus becoming the new Prince of Madness in the process. Yes, players actually take on the role of Sheogorath at this point, even inheriting his kingdom of madness!
16 Legendary Dragon Capital Bromjunaar
The massive ruins of Labyrinthian were believed to be home to a thriving city known as Bromjunaar. Accounts told through various books in Skyrim suggests that this city was governed by the Dragon Cult. In fact, some even believe that this city was the original capital of Skyrim!
This great city was apparently the headquarters of the highest-ranking Dragon Priests and it's believed that Labyrinthian was their meeting place whenever they discussed important matters. In modern-day Skyrim, however, the only things left of this once great city are ruins, traps, and a plethora of Draugr.
15 The Maze Of Trials
Labyrinthian might be considered as an old relic of the past but some managed to turn it into more than just a crumbling fortress of ruin. The Arch-Mage known as Shalidor turned this once-thriving city into a maze to test his mage initiates. Shalidor created a puzzling maze within the ruins that was quite impossible to solve.
Shalidor made the already confusing layout of Labyrinthian even worse.
Unsurprisingly, the Arch-Mage's notorious tests resulted in numerous casualties. Shalidor's labyrinth not only claimed the lives of many mages, but its real purpose is also shrouded in mystery.
14 The Great Battle
When powerful mages clash with equally powerful necromancers, then something magical is bound to happen! Indeed, something magical and quite destructive did happen when Mages Guild founder Vanus Galerion took on necromancer king Mannimarco in a fight known as The Great Battle. Powerful mages enveloped themselves in lethal spells to combat the notorious King of the Worms.
Bolts of lightning, waves of fire, and shards of ice were strewn across the battlefield. While the mages walked away with the victory that day, it is said that it came at the cost of thousands of lives from both parties.
13 Back From The Underworld
While the Great Battle supposedly ended with the demise of the King Of Worms Mannimarco, he eventually resurfaced during the Oblivion Crisis. The vengeful lich retaliated by wiping out each Mages Guild branch in every major city. Arch-mage Hannibal Traven had to sacrifice himself to give the hero of Kvatch the power that he needed to dispatch the notorious Mannimarco.
At this point, the players actually get the chance to become the new Arch-mage and defeat Mannimarco themselves! Why stop at recounting the magical Great Battle skirmish when you can take part in its epic sequel?
12 War Of The Red Diamond
Solitude prince Uriel Septim III started the War of The Red Diamond in hopes of being crowned as the new ruler. He accused the reigning Empress Kintyra II of being an illegitimate child and that he's the rightful heir. He was en route to a roaring victory, conquering most of the Empire until he was captured by the opposition during the Battle of Ichidag.
He was supposed to be transported to enemy territory to answer for his crimes but an angry mob caught up to his convoy and burned his carriage. Instead of being crowned emperor, he was defeated by mere vigilantes, oh the humiliation!
11 Reign Of The Mad King
There was a time when a mad king ruled the Empire. Some referred to Emperor Pelagius Septim III as an eccentric ruler but it seems like this is quite the understatement! There's a good reason why he's known as Pelagius The Mad.
It's said that Pelagius used silly primal grunts when speaking to an Argonian ambassador. His rule was marred by his eccentricities and accounts mention that the Elder Council had to take over to prevent him from embarrassing the whole kingdom. Pelagius eventually passed away in an asylum cell. Well, so much for being a king.
10 Battle Of Sancre Tor
The Battle Of Sancre Tor showed how the great Tiber Septim remarkably conquered a battle against all odds. Tiber's army was clearly outnumbered and outmatched by the opposing Nord-Breton forces. However, Tiber was able to come out victorious. Many lauded him for his cunning strategic mind and bravery.
Aside from the war, this place was also where Tiber's armor can be found. The armor contained the divine blood which was necessary for ending the Oblivion Crisis, so Sancre Tor is definitely a vital piece of history.
9 Night Of Tears
Mankind wasn't always as prominent in Skyrim back in the day. It's said that humans lived peacefully until the elves discovered a powerful artifact in Saarthal and decided to drive the locals out. Mankind suffered a terrible loss when the capital city, now a crumbling ruin, was ambushed by elves. Most humans were basically slaughtered in this event known as the Night Of Tears.
Only three survivors were able to survive the event, namely the legendary warrior Ysgramor and his two sons. Ysgramor retreated back to his homeland but vowed that he will soon come back to avenge his fallen brethren.
8 Return Of Man
The Mer had their time in Skyrim but they soon had to face the wrath of man in the event called The Return. Ysgramor kept his promise and came back with a vengeance, along with an army famously known as the Five Hundred Companions. Together, they took back the capital city of Saarthal from the elves.
Payback is a beard, a really long one.
Afterward, they continued their conquest and expansion across Skyrim. It didn't take long before the land was filled with humans once again. If fans were wondering why Ysgramor's Warhammer Wuurthal was especially lethal to elves, now they know.
7 An Unexpected Twist
Ysgramor's conquest led him to the Moesring Mountains. The remaining snow elves are expected to make their last stand against Ysgramor's army in an event called the Battle Of Moesring. The snow elves were clearly outmatched by the humans until the mysterious Snow Prince made his unnerving appearance.
The Snow Prince decimated most of the humans, from elite warriors to a mother named Jofrior. In a fit of rage, Jofrior's twelve-year-old daughter Finna threw her sword straight into the Snow Prince's chest, ending his life. The elves went from almost winning the battle to losing both their leader and their will to fight.
6 The Great War Begins
The Thalmor have long been building relations with other regions in an attempt to take over the Imperial forces one day. The Aldmeri Dominion eventually felt bold enough to send Emperor Titus Mede II an ultimatum, expecting the Empire to acquiesce to their demands. However, the Emperor rejected the ultimatum which signaled the beginning of The Great War.
The war lasted for a whopping 5 years, expending most of the Empire's resources in the process. The war carried on, resulting in countless casualties until a conclusive battle occurred during the Battle of The Red Ring.
5 The Empire Strikes Back
Emperor Titus Mede convinced the Almeri Dominion that they were about to surrender at one point during the Great War. This prompted the Thalmor to lower their guard. However, the emperor had a trick up his sleeve and was planning an ambush that the Thalmor didn't expect in what came to be known as the Battle of The Red Ring.
Winning the battle doesn't always mean winning the war.
The Thalmor fell to the Empire's might but the cost of the battle was too high. The Emperor felt that his army is now too weak to continue the war.
4 Temporary Peace
Fearing that the Empire could no longer continue fighting, Emperor Titus Mede decided to come to terms with the Aldmeri Dominion. The Emperor felt that he had no choice but to agree with the Thalmor's demands so he signed the peace treaty known as the White-Gold Concordat. The treaty demanded that the worship of Talos will no longer be tolerated.
The Blades were also ordered to be disbanded, as indicated in the treaty. Of course, the treaty irked a large portion of Skyrim Nords. This led to a rebellion against the Empire and players can immediately see its effects upon starting Skyrim.
3 Extermination Of The Blades
The White-Gold Concordat led to the dissolution of the legendary group of dragon hunters and protectors of kings known as The Blades. Instead of merely disbanding them, the treaty actually allowed the Thalmor to hunt down every last member of the group. This forced the remaining members to go into hiding.
This definitely explains Esbern's extreme paranoia.
The Dragonborn can almost feel the devastating aftermath of the treaty through Delphine's personal accounts. At least players get the opportunity of bringing the group back to its former glory during the mission “Rebuilding The Blades.”
2 Way Of The Voice
Jurgen Windcaller was one of the Nords who took part in the infamous Battle of Red Mountain. Unfortunately, his entire team was destroyed by the opposition. Jurgen spent a long time pondering on his defeat until he came to a realization.
The Nord warrior concluded that the powerful Thu'um shout should only be used to praise the gods and not as a weapon. He then became Jurgen The Calm, founder of the Greybeards. It's said that Jurgen had to “swallow” the shouts of seventeen Thu'um experts before they exhausted themselves and eventually became his followers. No wonder the Greybeards only utter one word when spoken to!
1 Delaying The Inevitable
When the World Eater Alduin ruled Skyrim during the Merethic Era, it was clear that the end of man would soon come. However, the goddess Kyne wanted mankind to have a fighting chance against the dragons. She urged Alduin's trusted lieutenant Paarthurnax to teach man how to utilize the powerful Thu'um.
Not even dragons saw that coming.
What Paarthurnax never expected is that man would soon create a hatred-fueled shout that would bring down Alduin, sending him in a time rift! Alduin's return is inevitable but now it's the player's job to fix mankind's mess, or not, because, you know, we'll probably be too busy doing sidequests.